There it was. Again. The low, guttural rumble of challenge. From a very large feline predator. Reeking of menace. How far? The bush screen allowed sound, not sight. Close.
Roy and I were poised to receive the attack—300 pounds of teeth and claws—rifles at our shoulders. Peering toward the sound. Nothing else in all the world mattered except this. Nothing else registered in our minds, our beings. Only the moment…this moment. Right here. Right now. We were completely ALIVE.
It was midday, or thereabout. We had not thought of time since picking up the trail in the morning. We had been completely in the Present ever since. Rifles at port arms, or, when that incredible sound came through the brush, at the shoulder. This was at least the third time. We were sticking to that lion; she could not shake us.
(I am still astonished by the skill of Roy and our trackers in staying on our lion—and only our lion—even through the tracks of two lion packs (called prides, in case you’ve forgotten). Through the tracks of herds of zebra, of buffalo. On and on. Amazing fieldcraft.)
The Rumble ceased. We waited. Nothing. Back to tracking. Advancing, side by side, about ten to fifteen feet apart the better to cover each other and to see ahead—two avenues of sight to pick up a charge. Onward. Most of a day. Again and again the menacing rumble. I don’t recall eating or drinking. Focus. One does not leave a wounded lion, perhaps to terrorize local farmers. It just isn’t done. Not by real men.
It came suddenly. From Roy’s position, to my right. BANG! I leaped to cover him. His Weatherby in .460 was jammed! The field of vision was across thirty five yards of open ground—a classic ambush scenario for a holed-up lion—ready to attack. There! Roy’s shot had deflected in the brush screen she was launching through to gain the open charging space (good eyes Roy, and quick shooting!). She was hit in the leg, though the leg was not broken. His shot had spun her, slowed her down. She was coming again. And his gun was jammed. The .375 at my shoulder swung onto her. BANG! She went down. And stayed down. It was finished. At last.
“You will only have half-lived your life if you never feel the icy clutch of danger for its own sake.”— Peter Hathaway Capstick
Meanwhile, back at Corral Camp….
Well, I trust my readers have enjoyed these INTERLUDE diversions interrupting our Road Trip to provide more adventurous, more “exciting” fare than what’s been a simple travel narrative. I propose we tarry here at good ol’ Corral Camp and do more of the same: stories and adventures from the checkered past of your humble correspondent. It seems the Road Trip tiltle of this simple blog post seems to have become a metaphor for a Life Journey. And so by damn, let it be so! I’m having a grand time looking back; the process of actually telling the tales sharpens the memoriy of them.
But first, let’s get to the epilogue of the lion tracking adventure. The human Players in the drama–Roy, the two Trackers and myself were damn sure relieved by the outcome. Roy was mightily pleased I had his back and finished the job. He was NOT happy about the jam to his mighty Weatherby. It ended well nevertheless. There were more beers consumed in camp that night than normal. Many more. And we all slept in the next morning. I never got around to doing a life-size mount of impala-in-lion-mouth…life financial reverses intruded. But the lion hide did get done, and hangs in the foyer at Kifaru Headquarters to this day.